Latest Northwest Masks by Paul Ygartua


Paul has been working tirelessly on his latest interpretation of West Coast Native totem poles and masks. Have a look at some of these colourful pieces which open a door into this beautiful culture.

If you would like to view these pieces in Vancouver we are being represented by Eagle Spirit Gallery on Granville island. Paul has always admired the culture and rituals of the west-coast natives in Canada. He has had close relations with the famous Chief Dan George’s (Chief of the Tsleil-Waututh) son, Chief Leonard George who is also a collector of Paul’s work, giving him the opportunity to participate in many interesting projects with the Native People of Canada.

Northwest Masks by Paul Ygartua

It is important that I evolve introspectively, empowering me to observe with an understanding, an awareness–to perceive things that are unnoticed and to bring to the attention of others.

To connect to my personal cultural perspectives, it is important to look at the past, which I believe, provides one, the direction necessary for the future.

The power and spectrum of one’s imagination, the intensity of conception for truth and originality must be at the forefront to master one’s creative potency, It is fundamental to be innovative, inventive and constantly searching”



It is Paul’s belief that the foundation and integrity of civilization is to live harmoniously with our surroundings, respecting nature and the inhabitants of the world

If we look back to the native mythology and beliefs of our first people of the world, we will discover that at the beginning of time their core belief is Everything is One – their world view is simultaneously at the cutting edge of social philosophy, steeped in mythic reality.

The mythology of the West Coast Natives is a subject that permits Paul to translate the power of their presence, their existence; the visual and mythological interpretation–giving the viewer an opportunity to reflect with a deeper understanding of the legendary beliefs of the First People of the World.



Bella Bella – United in History – 2013 Monumental Mural 120 x 22 ft

Ygartua is a painter and muralist with bases in Canada, France, Spain, and England. He has single handedly painted some of the largest public space murals in Canada and the United States. His most famous works are “Heritage Series” depicting North American First Nations peoples and other native ethnic and cultural groups. He is renown worldwide for his public works of art , his murals commemorating historical events, speaking to ethnic pride and honoring local heroes.

“I feel that it is essential to continually be searching for new subjects, new ideas—it is important to experiment and constantly challenge yourself. This is an even more exciting challenge when working freehand on the larger murals. I particularly like to work on murals where the faces are from 10 to 15 feet.

When portraits are monumental in size – 100 times larger than life, it exerts a powerful attraction, bringing an awareness and the attention of the general public, engaging the viewer in thought and curiosity about the people and the historical events presented before them.

Ygartua’s most recent mural (2013), united in History, a 22’ x 120’ fresco, commemorates the history of Bella Bella, B.C. and the Heiltsuk Nation, the first inhabitants of this area and the individuals who were integral to the development of the greater Bella Bella Community from 1830 to 1980.

Native Heritage 1983 mural on Vancouver Island by Paul Ygartua

“It has been an honor for me, to paint the extraordinary people of the ancient civilization of the Heiltsuk Nation (with historical records dating back some 9,500 years). My Basque heritage, the oldest race of Europe, and my interest in the First Peoples of the world, along with the preservation of all ancient indigenous cultures, gives me great appreciation to be part of the enrichment and lasting depiction of the legacy that contributes to the rich cultural heritage of Bella Bella, British Columbia, and Canada.”

Paul Ygartua has been recognized and honored as The Mural Miracle Maker by Pauline Hilistis Waterfall and the Hereditary Chiefs of the Heiltsuk Nation, Bella Bella, B.C., Canada.

Sun Mask – 6 x 4 ft, acrylic on canvas


“It is part of my inner journey to transcend through styles and expressions in identifying myself in my work with original interpretations of existing expressions through my own experiences”.

Paul has always admired the culture and rituals of the west-coast natives in Canada. He has had close relations with the famous Chief Dan George’s (Chief of the tsleil-Waututh) son, Chief Leonard George who is also a collector of Paul’s work, giving him the opportunity to participate in many interesting projects with the Native People of Canada.


“Although I paint faces I don’t consider myself a portrait artist. I enjoy many different subjects, but I find myself constantly searching for the life behind the face—to create an almost historical expression of that person’s life is The direction that most intrigues me.”

YGARTUA HERITAGE –The Basques, one of the oldest known ethnic groups in the world, have been fighting to protect their language and culture for thousands of years. They are fiercely proud of their history.

Paul Ygartua, son of a Basque father – who endured the trauma of the Spanish Civil War, the anguish of his separation from his beloved homeland, resulted in his determination to preserve his heritage, his culture and his connection to his beloved land and family.

Haida Chief, acrylic on canvas 4 x 4 ft

“His strength, his pride of being Basque was the most predominant factor in my life – my father had a profound influence on me.”

Ygartua’s upbringing gave him a deep understanding of the importance of one’s heritage, and compassion for First Nations crusades to preserve their culture.He feels that the preservation of one’s heritage is an obligation and duty.

“It seemed that some instinctive and natural inquisitiveness drawn from my Basque Heritage was acting as a force, a guiding hand, directing me to create a tableau, a record of character portraying the magnificent ancient indigenous peoples of the World.

The 70’s was the beginning of my study of the American Native – a period of creation which saw the development of what I term my Native Heritage work. It was both fascinating and furthered my education not only of the First Nations People, but of myself and of the cultural aspect of people generally.

My interpretation of their journey, expressed through their facial characteristics, gives one a depth that takes one into a third dimension. The strength and character of an individual has always influenced me and I find this has directed and encouraged me to search for these innate qualities and therefore find myself drawn to the power of this presence. I try to portray the strength,the pride and wisdom of these extraordinary people. I feel an energy in this amazing historic subject matter that challenges me to capture this spirit on canvas.”

Words from the artist

“The natural wonder of the rainforest and totems of the west coast is stimulating and has motivated me to express myself with a subject matter that I find invigorating and exciting.

I have been influenced and inspired by our First People of Canada in many ways – I find it enlightening and spiritually exhilarating when working with subject matter such as the Indomitable Spirit. I depict this journey of the indigenous people of British Columbia through their struggle and their cultural heritage of carving the great masks and totems. The masks are hidden, as if breaking out from the undergrowth in the forest—a force that only nature can reckon with- creating a medium that includes brush and palette knife to carve in the subliminal shapes of the masks and totems. I believe that it is important to be visually and emotionally moved by my work- to capture the strength of the indomitable spirit and to captivate the viewer is always a challenge that I particularly enjoy.”

Formidable, 4 x4 ft, acrylic on canvas


Future Conceptualism–is an authentic interpretation by Ygartua, the sole creator of this unique style.

Future Conceptualism is a reverse painted technique on transparent plexiglass using a technique similar to Cloisonne Enamelling, an ancient technique of the Chinese, (whose history can date back to over 500 years) whereby a single line is etched out depicting the subject matter, then each area painted separately creating a collage of color in a mosaic effect.

Paul Ygartua painting yellow native totemsThis is a complex technique, conveying a powerful presence-a mixed media mosaic cubistic style inlaid with gold or silver, creating the design and separating the colors.

It is a distortion of the subject matter, an original abstract with a sculptural effect. the element of lucidity is created through color separation combining fluorescent metallics, enamels and acrylics.

This medium I developed in 1986 and continued developing this style till the early 90’s. It is just recently, that I have re-entered the challenge of working with this extraordinary medium which allows me to experiment more with my design concepts creating an ultra modern effect.

A medium where I can express my sense of design with the freedom of expression with a controlled freestyle.

To achieve certain colors it is a combination of a process of blending metallics, bright enamels and acrylic fluorescents –creating the texture cannot be created in any other medium , the masking and the layering creates the cloisonne effect.

The intricacy and complexity of the design and texture is achieved through the process of the gold inlay separating the enamel and acrylic overlay–achieved through various processes of the layering of enamel and acrylics establishing a separation, creating the allure and elegance of a marbled texture.

Unification 4 x 6 ft, reverse painted on plexiglass

The allure of the plexiglass is compelling, it captivates the viewer, as it is bold, expressive and unique. The intensity of color, the subtleties of the use of the blending of metallics creates a reflective characteristic which changes in different lighting, a metamorphosis that beholds and mesmerizes the observer.

“I haven’t changed a bit, I continue living with the same passion and the same energy as the artist who has just begun and has to place himself at the starting point in order to better see the horizon that he has to reach; for this reason, in each work that I am going to begin, I put all my passion, feelings and will, in order to conceive something new and create with my brushes a fantasy capable of stirring the imagination.”

Critics of Paul Ygartua’s work affirm that his works reflect his impulsive personality, transmitting his dynamism, speed, and originality.

“NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION and every artist needs to change before crossing over and moving forward into another dimension. Sometimes to move forward one needs to reflect on previous work -this way I have a plan and a direction by which to head forwards with my imagination and dexterity, forging new paths in an ever changing landscape of paint and imagination.”

Apparition, 2 x 4 ft, reverse painted on plexiglass


“Throughout my lifetime, I have endeavored to paint and express myself in many different styles and techniques, having taken each style to an ultimate conclusion. I am always looking to improve on each work so as to fine tune my coordination between body,mind and spirit with emphasis on reaching the point whereby my hands almost are moving without consciously guiding them. Speed is an integral part of the process as it forces one to not dwell on exactitude rather it forces a continuous flow of inspiration and passion.My concept of painting is the journey of struggle and determination for perfection in every aspect of my work -from design and composition to color and form. A journey that never ends. Each style fits into a plan, like a road map to the future and sometimes the direction is not always forward, but like a continuous ebb and flow of juices which moves one, sometimes forwards and sometimes backwards but always towards a positive direction.


Flip through all the available artwork currently exhibited at Eagle Spirit Gallery



  • Clive Wickett
    Posted at 10:55h, 27 March Reply

    Love them Iggy(Paul)!! Like each and every one.Say hello to Joanne , please.

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